Coach B.B. King and his Knott Central Patriots have ruled the 14th Region for the past two years, and there’s no reason to think his team can’t produce a repeat performance in 2014.
Returning all of their core players, including junior guard Camron Justice who recently announced his commitment to the University of Tennessee, the Patriots are set to tackle a schedule loaded with talented players from inside and outside of the mountain region. They will host Lexington Catholic on Dec. 14, and on Dec. 26 will travel to Lexington Catholic to compete in Republic Bank Classic, which boasts the likes of DuPont Manual and Male among other teams. Also this season they will take on Fleming County, South Charleston (W. Va.), and Wayne County, last season’s 12th Region champions.
The 14th Region also includes some talented teams, and the Patriots will compete against several, including Hazard, Cordia, and Perry Central throughout the season.
“Our schedule is pretty tough this year, probably about the toughest one I’ve had,” King said.
King said he won’t assume his team will walk to another region title just because of their success the past two seasons, and he expects his players to continue to improve as the upcoming season progresses. And, he added, he will be working hard himself to ensure his players aren’t resting on their laurels.
“I think they are up to it,” he said. “They play hard, and the hardest thing will be confidence. I hope they’re not too over confident. I guess it’s my job to jerk them down another notch. That’s part of the reason I got a tough schedule.”
With the success the school has had in the past two seasons, it was inevitable some of the players would be receiving interest from coaches at the next level. Camron Justice has been the target of much of that interest during his first two high school seasons. His announcement last month that he would attend Tennessee was a relief of sorts, King said, as both he and Justice were being contacted daily from people wanting to come and watch Justice play. That particular weight is lifted, though King added the attention wasn’t a bad thing, especially for Justice.
Schools are also showing interest in junior center Evan Hall, who averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds last season as a sophomore. He has reportedly been contacted by several schools in Kentucky and West Virginia, including Marshall, Eastern Kentucky University, and Morehead.
The Patriots’ offense, however, revolves around Justice, who will remain the target of opposing coaches’ strategies for containment. Last year Justice averaged 25 points per game, while the Patriots as a team ranked second in the state in margin of victory at just under 20 points on average, according to the KHSAA. As a team, the Patriots shot 38 percent from behind the three-point line, third best in the state.
With Justice returning along with Hall, Simon Christon, and Chance Cornett (all of whom are in their junior year), Knott Central is poised to make a serious run for a third straight trip to Rupp Arena in March. And when asked what he’ll be looking for from his team this season, King simply replied, “The same thing; we want to go back.”
Dec 3: Jenkins, 6 p.m.
Dec 7: Magoffin County, 7:30 p.m.
Dec 10: @ Cordia, 7:30 p.m.
Dec 12: June Buchanan, 6 p.m.
Dec 14: Lexington Catholic, 6 p.m.
Dec 17: @ Hazard, 7:30 p.m.
Dec 20: Sheldon Clark, 7:30 p.m.
Dec 26: TBA at Lexington Catholic (Republic Bank Classic)
Jan 2: Letcher County Central, 7:30 p.m.
Jan 4: Powell County, 4:30 p.m.
Jan 7: TBA (WYMT Mountain Classic)
Jan 18: TBA at Williamson, WV (Hatfield-McCoy Shootout)
Jan 21: @ Buckhorn 7:30 p.m.
Jan 23: @ June Buchanan, 7:30 p.m.
Jan 25: Fleming County @ Montgomery County (Joe B. Hall Prep Classic)
Jan 28: @ Letcher County Central, 7:30 p.m.
Jan 30: Cordia, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 1: TBA @ Fairdale (King of the Bluegrass)
Feb 6: @ Jenkins, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 7: Belfry, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 8: Wayne County @ Lafayette, 4:15 p.m. (Jock Sutherland Classic)
Feb 13: Perry County Central, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 15: Mercer County, 6 p.m.
Feb 20: Shelby Valley, 7:30 p.m.